I was trying to find out about the availability of some train tickets on the Indian Railways website. After selecting the date and then the train, I clicked the button to check the availability and the next page had a surprise for me, which said:
Following ERROR was encountered in your Query Processing
Network links for this site are not temporarily avbl.
Please Try Again
I tried again but all I did was to manage to get the same message. The message is mildly amusing and is not very useful for the user because there’s no way to report the message or to recover from it. And, people who don’t know developer-speak will probably wonder what they did wrong.
It’s impossible not to have bugs in applications but it is possible to make error messages less cryptic. In this specific example, the use of the phrase ‘Query Processing’ would mean nothing to people who don’t know about databases and queries. (Even if you do know about databases and queries, the message may stump you but that’s another matter.)
I bet that if developers put some thought into it, they could make error messages useful to both the user and other developers. If language isn’t a developer’s strength, then find a technical writer or someone else who can understand the technical mumbo jumbo and make error messages better. I think users will appreciate error messages that are helpful rather than hopeless. Hey, some well-written error messages can even make you smile.
Pls. try agn. Please try again.